5 years ago

Bentley refuses Syrian refugees relocating to Alabama

Gov. Robert Bentley testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to highlight Alabama’s prison reform efforts. (Photo: Bentley Admin.)
Gov. Robert Bentley testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to highlight Alabama’s prison reform efforts. (Photo: Bentley Admin.)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Governor Robert Bentley announced late Sunday evening that his administration will refuse Syrian refugees slated to be relocated to Alabama in the coming weeks.

“After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program,” Bentley said in a statement. “As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way.”

According to the U.S. State Department, more than 100 Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees were slated to be housed by Catholic Social Services (CSS) in Mobile.

Though the CSS is part of the church’s Archdiocese of Mobile, the program is completely funded by federal tax dollars. CSS volunteer outreach coordinator Erin Dunn told Yellowhammer in September the service is equipped to provide assistance to up to 130 new refugees in the coming year.

“We work with them for about 6 months to help them become self-sufficient,” explained Dunn. “We have various programs that our case managers walk them through, and we have a job developer that helps them find jobs, and case managers work on connecting them to local resources… As volunteer outreach coordinator, I work with volunteers who are willing to help teach them English, or take them to the grocery store, or teach them how to ride the bus. It’s pretty much everything you can think of to help orient them to the city so after six months they’re able to be self-sufficient.”

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the State Department provides $1,850 per refugee for the first three months of assistance, to be used for reception, initial housing, food, clothing, referrals services and social programs.

However, if the refugees are not able to find a job in those first three months, or are precluded from doing so due to a disability, they are eligible for many welfare programs, including Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), and Supplemental Security Income.

Revelations that refugees could have access to welfare prompted widespread backlash around the state and country, but the security concerns are undoubtedly the most pressing.

“The acts of terror committed over the weekend are a tragic reminder to the world that evil exists and takes the form of terrorists who seek to destroy the basic freedoms we will always fight to preserve,” Gov. Bentley said Sunday. “I will not place Alabamians at even the slightest, possible risk of an attack on our people. Please continue to join me in praying for those who have suffered loss and for those who will never allow freedom to fade at the hands of terrorists.”

The Bentley administration said there is not any credible intelligence indicating that Alabama is or has been the target of any terrorist threats. However, law enforcement presence has been increased at large events in Alabama to further insure the safety of citizens. Bentley also said the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is working diligently with the FBI, DHS and federal intelligence partners to monitor any possible threats.

This story will be updated as more information comes in.

50 mins ago

July small business owner survey shows lack of optimism, increased uncertainty amid modest financial gains

In a July study conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), America’s small business owners reported a 14% month over month drop in their expectations the economy will improve even as many firms reported faring slightly better amid loosened coronavirus restrictions.

Overall, there was a decrease of seven points in the NFIB Uncertainty Index and a decrease of 1.8 points in the NFIB Optimism Index.

The categories in which businesses saw minor gains were earnings, hiring and capital outlays. NFIB State of Alabama director Rosemary Elebash focused on the positive aspects in her comments on the study.

“Our members are seeing positive signs of businesses recovering and operating while still under the COVID-19 emergency orders,” Elebash said in a release on Wednesday.

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NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg in a statement accompanying the release of the study remarked, “Small business represents nearly half of the GDP and this month we saw a dip in optimism. There is still plenty of work to be done to get businesses back to pre-crisis numbers.”

The NFIB report also showed continued demand for skilled workers that has not been met; 27% of businesses surveyed reported having job openings for skilled workers that they could not fill.

A release from the group highlighted that a “net negative 28% of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past 3 months.”

“Even with states reopening, sales are often lower due to business restrictions, social distancing requirements, and a still-reduced willingness of consumers to go out and mingle with the general population,” the report continued.

Elebash made further comments on the current state of the economy in Alabama, saying she hopes to see the unemployment rate continue to drop.

“July’s tax revenues grew by 4.27% after two months of declines. Alabama’s unemployment rate fell to 7.5% percent in June, a big improvement from April’s high of 13.8%, and we hope to see another drop in the jobless rate when July’s numbers are released,” she stated.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

1 hour ago

Ledbetter named co-chair of Tuberville’s Senate campaign

Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) has been named co-chair of Republican senatorial nominee Tommy Tuberville’s 2020 campaign, it was announced on Wednesday.

The former Auburn University head football coach cited the conservative lawmaker’s record of success in the State House among the key reasons for his selection.

“Majority Leader Ledbetter has spent the last three years working closely with Republican representatives and senators from every corner of our state, and the conservative reforms they implemented have made Alabama a better place to work, live, and raise children,” Tuberville said in a statement.

“His team built upon the GOP supermajority in Alabama during the 2018 campaign cycle, and his experience and instincts will prove to be invaluable as we head toward November,” the candidate added.

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Ledbetter joins Stan McDonald, a Huntsville attorney who has successfully helped lead the campaign leadership team, as a campaign co-chair. McDonald was chair of the pro-Tuberville Grit PAC before transitioning to the campaign itself.

Saying he was eager to begin working with the campaign staff to secure a Tuberville victory, Ledbetter stressed that the race is especially important since Alabama’s U.S. Senate contest could very well determine which party controls the Senate after this election cycle. The result could determine the direction of the country, Ledbetter advised.

Tuberville will face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in November’s general election.

“Since taking office, Doug Jones has voted twice to remove Donald Trump from office, opposed the nomination of conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and joined the liberal faction that supports abortion and wants to grab our guns,” Ledbetter stated. “I am proud to help elect Coach Tuberville because it is time for Alabama to have a U.S. Senator who represents our conservative beliefs and values, not those of liberals who live in New York and California.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Alabama Power personnel head to Illinois in support of another storm recovery

Alabama Power Company crews are slated to arrive in Illinois on Wednesday to assist in storm recovery efforts after a deadly derecho pummeled midwestern states in recent days.

The Alabama Power team members heading to Illinois just completed restoration efforts in New Jersey related to Tropical Storm Isaias. More than 200 of the company’s lineworkers and support personnel assisted in the Garden State after more than 1 million residents were affected by the storm.

Personnel arriving in Illinois will support Commonwealth Edison’s (ComEd) restoration efforts.

As of Tuesday, more than 400,000 ComEd customers remained without power in metropolitan Chicago and northern Illinois.

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“We were in the right place to be able to move quickly from New Jersey to help the folks in Illinois,” stated Brian Lindsay, a manager in Alabama Power Company Power Delivery who is part of the company’s team heading to support ComEd. “Our crews are eager to support ComEd and their customers.”

Just as was the case in New Jersey, this is yet another example of Alabama Power offering and coordinating recovery work through the mutual assistance program of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, a trade association comprised of several member utilities.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

Baldwin County Sheriff Hoss Mack: ‘Disappointed’ in Doug Jones; Tuberville needed to keep country ‘free,’ ‘strong’

For many voters, especially on the Republican side, the subject of maintaining law and order will be a priority when they cast their ballot in this November’s election.

According to Baldwin County Sheriff Huey Hoss Mack, the issue should be considered, especially when deciding whether to vote in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race between incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) and his GOP challenger former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Mack told listeners during an appearance on Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5 on Tuesday it was important for Republicans to maintain control of the U.S. Senate, which put added importance on the Jones-Tuberville match-up.

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“You always look at every election as important,” he said. “I don’t think you can say there is no such thing as an unimportant election. But this one, and in particular our U.S. Senate race, is so important right now. Number one, just from the 3,000-foot view, the Republican Party can gain a seat back in the Senate. And as you know — you follow politics very closely — the Senate is the one body in our United States form of government that has an incredible amount of influence and power as it relates to legislation and to policy, and to funding. So, it is very important that we regain that seat.”

Mack acknowledged his support for Tuberville and expressed his disappointment in Jones, a former U.S. Attorney for the Clinton Justice Department, for his embrace of a “far-left philosophy.”

“From a personal perspective, of course, I’m voting for Tommy Tuberville,” Mack continued. “I hope that Tommy wins the race. When Doug Jones took office, I have to admit, I was a little bit disappointed because I’ve known Doug for years. He was a former United States prosecutor. And I was even familiar with some of the cases he prosecuted in the northern district. Since he has moved to Washington, he seems to have taken on a little bit more of that far-left philosophy in many areas but certainly as they relate to law enforcement. I feel that if we’re going to try to achieve some of the things that law enforcement needs to do to keep our country strong, to keep our country free and abide by the rights of the citizens, we need to elect somebody like Tommy Tuberville to that seat.”

Mack predicted issues of law and order and policing would be among the “top three” issues for voters in the November election, and a more discussed issue than if not ever, then at least since the early 1970s.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

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